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Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - Delay Both Obamacare Mandates and Provide Fairness for All

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By Tim Griffin

Recently, U.S. Senator Max Baucus, a senior Democrat, said Obamacare--a law he voted for--is a "train wreck." I agree. It's hurting our economy and adding to the challenges that families and workers already face.

Two mandates form the core of Obamacare: The individual mandate forces nearly all individuals to buy government-approved health insurance or pay a tax, and the employer mandate requires businesses with at least 50 full-time workers to offer government-approved health plans to employees who work more than 30 hours a week. Failure to comply means thousands of dollars in fines.

As a result, many full-time employees have been reduced to part-time, and some businesses have stopped hiring altogether. A 21-year-old Hispanic-American who runs a small business in North Little Rock told me he has 45 full-time employees. He's ready to hire 10 or 20 more, but he can't because Obamacare makes him choose between new, higher insurance premiums or hefty fines. "The government should be my partner so I can help my employees prosper," he said, obviously frustrated.

The cost of doing business will only continue to grow under Obamacare. The American Action Forum calculated that, in the next six months alone, additional regulations "could impose more than $4.4 billion in burdens." The Washington Examiner reported that "cost estimates from 17 of the nation's largest insurance companies indicate that health insurance premiums will grow an average of 100 percent under Obamacare, and that some will soar more than 400 percent." According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, at least seven million Americans -- more than twice the population of Arkansas -- will lose their current health plans.

Obamacare also increases the power of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which was recently caught discriminating against conservatives because of their political beliefs. The Obama Administration wants to hire nearly 2,000 additional agents to staff the IRS's eight new Obamacare enforcement offices. At their disposal will be "the largest personal information database the government has ever attempted," according to The Wall Street Journal. It will combine your tax records with data from state governments, the Social Security Administration, and the Departments of Health and Human Services, Justice and Homeland Security.

For these reasons and more, I've voted more than 30 times to repeal all or parts of Obamacare. Full repeal will pave the way for real, patient-centered health care reform. Unfortunately, President Obama will never agree, and the longer Obamacare is the law, the harder it will be to uproot it, start over and get things right.

The complexity of Obamacare has made implementing it a nightmare for everyone involved. So on July 2, the Obama Administration announced it would effectively delay the employer mandate for one year. But this unilateral decision to provide relief to businesses instead of all Americans creates an incentive for employers to cut their employees' health coverage and dump them into the new government exchanges where they can receive federal subsidies.

Without the employer mandate's reporting requirements, however, the IRS won't be able to determine if the consumers claiming these tax credits are actually eligible. Billions of dollars in tax breaks will be doled out on the honor system. The potential for fraud and abuse is staggering.

Why delay only part of Obamacare like this? Is it part of a deliberate strategy for a complete government takeover of health care? And why give businesses and labor unions relief from Obamacare but leave workers and families behind to deal with the devastating consequences? That's simply not fair.

One thing is clear: Obamacare must be stopped and delayed at every opportunity--for all Americans, not just those with high-paid lobbyists. That's why the House passed two bills yesterday to delay both of Obamacare's mandates.

My bill, the Authority for Mandate Delay Act (H.R. 2667), authorizes President Obama's delay of the employer mandate. He may think he can pick and choose which parts of Obamacare to enforce, but only Congress can change the law. President Obama's decision to delay the employer mandate makes it clear he understands the burden it places on America's ability to grow jobs and the negative political consequences for the Democrats. Since President Obama and I agree on this issue, Democrats should support my bill.

Rep. Todd Young's (IN-9) bill, the Fairness for American Families Act (H.R. 2668), delays Obamacare's individual mandate, giving all Americans the same exemptions President Obama already granted to businesses and labor unions. I'm an original cosponsor of this legislation.

Together, these bills protect workers, their families and our economy from the "train wreck" that is Obamacare. They prevent health care consumers from being forced into government insurance exchanges. They reduce the risk of fraud. Most importantly, they treat everyone fairly by providing relief to all Americans.


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